The Hurricane: Rubin Carter

From an April 23 audio column posted on  Hurricane Carter died from prostate cancer on April 20 at age 76.  

He was born in New Jersey 76 years ago as Rubin Carter, but most people knew him as “The Hurricane,” his ring name earned after a dizzying career as a ferocious middleweight boxer with a mean left hook.

Rubin’s hardest fight was not in a boxing ring, but in a Paterson, New Jersey, courtroom, where prosecutors twice tried — and twice convicted — Carter and his co-defendant, John Artis, of a triple murder of three whites in 1966 in a Jersey bar.

Rubin served 19 years in Trenton State Prison before Lee Sarokin, a federal judge in Camden, New Jersey, tossed the three convictions in 1985, ruling that the state’s case rested upon “racial stereotypes, fears and prejudice” — not facts.

Carter carried a laminated copy of the case in his inside jacket pocket for the rest of his life — calling it his “freedom papers.” He had a sweet sense of humor, and was, inside and out, a beautiful man.

After his freedom, he left the U.S to live and work in Canada, fighting against corrupt convictions from coast to coast. He once met former President Bill Clinton and told him that if [Clinton’s] 1996 revision of habeas corpus law had been in effect when [Carter] went to court, he would never have been freed.

Rubin “Hurricane” Carter was a man of gentleness, joy, light and strength.